in an attempt to mend the soured relations relations between the magic and human worlds, atsumu and osamu are the first princes in decades to invite witches to their birthday ball—though the decision is not without controversy.
the court was already displeased when the twins demanded for commoners to attend the ball for the first time when they were fourteen, but the king and queen approved of their will to get to know their future subjects face to face.

witches are a whole different matter though.
magic has been outlawed in their nation’s cities for decades after a tragic incident where a court mage decades ago assassinated the ruling king at the time—atsumu’s and osamu’s great-grandfather.

the thing is, they always thought it’s a load of bullshit. hypocritical, too.
the nobles themselves almost all have magical contacts outside of the city that they ask for their services, even if they publicly shame any use of magic whatsoever—and perfectly good people, like rintarou’s mother, are forced to live in isolation when they wouldn’t hurt a fly
“it’s like a sword,” rin’s mother told them, when the twins snuck outside to visit him one day, “it’s a weapon, right? it can kill people, if used by the wrong person—but it can also clear a path, and protect the ones you love.”

and so the twins fought long and hard in order to
be allowed to invite witches to royal balls again, and after any arguments and threats to renounce the throne, they finally did get their way.

still, even they are surprised at how many actually arrive. they’re usually easy to spot, with many amulets around their necks and bags
of ingredients right around their shoulders

“if they need to protect themselves, probably” rin told them, being allowed to their birthday celebration for the first time, too—osamu’s been over the moon about it all day, which is annoying because osamu’s crush is gross, but it
also makes atsumu the one who ignores pretty much all the prissy nobles around him in an attempt to talk to the witches.

most of them are wary, of course, since the miya dynasty is singlehandedly responsible for their plight but he tries to talk to them anyway, with some success
he talks to an excitable warlock named nishinoya who engrosses him in a story about how he tried (and failed) to summon a thunderstorm once—the witch named shimizu does not appreciate his attempts at flirting, but after his apology she presses two healing potions in his hands,
birthday presents for him and his brother—and that she appreciates the effort to make this happen, before walking up to a small blonde commoner girl she seems to know.

atsumu is in the middle talking to a summoner and a necromancer when there’s a sudden shift in the air.
he thinks it’s just his imagination, but the two mages turn around immediately to the castle entrance with wide eyes—in fact, every single witch in his periphery does, and many humans, too

two figures enter the hall. one of average height, with light brown hair and curious eyes
that seem to be ignoring the attention they attract, but it’s really his companion that stands out.

atsumu has little to know sense for magic, but even he can feel the presence emanating from the tall man with a sour face, his pale skin and gold accessories serving as the only
contrast to his pitch black robes covering him from head to toe. atsumu doesn’t think he saw the man cast any spell, but he feels bewitched either way.

the thing that breaks him out of his staring is kuroo’s low whistle next to him.
“damn, never thought he’d actually show up.”
“you know him?” atsumu asks curiously.

“ha! who doesn’t know him? you felt it too, right? pretty much the most powerful mage in the area—does a lot of different types of magic too, which you don’t see as much, and, uh—“ kuroo suddenly looks shifty for the first time in their

“well, uh, how do i say this—“

“he’s a sakusa,” kozume speaks up for the first time in their conversation. “most witches don’t really like them, because...”

atsumu understands. he’s heard the name sakusa said with disdain by many of his history teachers.
it was the sakusa family who served as court mages to the miya dynasty for many generations—and it was a sakusa who killed atsumu’s great-grandfather, and caused for magic to be forbidden and scorned by the general public.

atsumu can see how that might be a bit of a sore spot.
he can see it and yet—it’s stupid. the past is the past, and they’re all different people from the ones that lived a century earlier.

atsumu grew up learning a lot about the ways of strategy and diplomacy. he knows an opportunity when he sees one.
he excuses himself from kozume and kenma and hurries to find osamu, who meets him halfway.

“samu!” he whisper-yells into his brother’s year, and then his eyes shift to sakusa and his companion once again “that guy, he’s—“

“i know,” osamu replies, “rin told me.”

atsumu grins.
“i’m gonna go talk to him.”

“like hell you are, you’re just gonna scare him off.”

“hey i talked to loads of witches tonight and it went pretty well!”

“yeah but you’re probably going to piss that guy off and make him assassinate you too,” osamu quips. he says it like a mean
joke, but atsumu, for once, is serious about wanting to make good with someone.

“at least /I’m/ not the one who still hasn’t asked rin to dance yet.”

osamu frowns at him. atsumu knows that his brother wants to from the bottom of his heart, and that he doesn’t even care about
the court scorning him—but he’s worried for rin’s safety, being a man, a commoner, and a witch to boot, and being seen dancing with one of the crown princes might put some targets on his back.

rin is perfectly capable of protecting himself but osamu is a worrier when it matters
“you’re the worst,” osamu grows at him.

“and you’re a coward.”

“i’ll show you who the coward is—“

“well it’s not me, ‘cause i’m gonna go and talk to them!”


atsumu turns on his heel and walks straight up the two witches as they’re looking around the lavish buffet.
he clears his throat with an “excuse me?” and waits for both of them to turn around with raised eyebrows before he bows in front of them.

“miya atsumu,” he rises back up with a smile. “pleasure to make your acquaintance!”

“Oh, your highness!” the brown-haired witch bows too,
and returns his smile in perhaps the most genuine way that atsumu has seen all evening. “i’m komori and this is...” he looks up at sakusa with a quick worried glance and then, “kiyoomi!”

kiyoomi scoffs, “don’t just give him my first name—“
“oh i know your last name,” atsumu replied easily, “but it might get a little messy if others around here find out, so i hope you don’t mind, kiyoomi-kun? some people can be So hung up on old family drama,” he adds the last part with a dramatic sigh, and watches kiyoomi closely.
on the outside he still has a very intimidating aura around him—his hauntingly beautiful figure set aside, atsumu still feels the powerful aura around him, knows on some instinctive level that he probably shouldn’t cross kiyoomi Too much, lest he find himself cursed or something
but as atsumu studies his face closer, he sees the frown on his forehead and the displeased curl of his nose.

“... if you must. your highness.”

he looks and sounds positively constipated, forcing the words out. atsumu finds it hilarious.
“would you rather have a nickname?” atsumu asks innocently, even though kiyoomi doesn’t seem like the type to want a nickname at all. “how about... omi-kun?”

komori snorts audibly. “oh, i love that!”

“i don’t,” kiyoomi replies sourly, but gets drowned out by komori’s laughter
“how about i get us some drinks, ‘omi-kun’,” he quips with a pat on kiyoomi’s shoulder, “while you and your highness get to know each other?”

“motoya—“ kiyoomi reaches out a hand to his friend, but komori simply skips away with a cheeky grin. atsumu decides that he likes him
“So...” atsumu starts slowly, even as kiyoomi glowers down at him. “tell me about yourself!”

“you already know who i am, don’t you?”

“i know your name, that’s not much to go on! what kinda magic do you do? every witch here does something else, it’s so interesting to learn from

showing an interest in people is the first step to making them open up to you, and atsumu doesn’t even have to fake it this time—he doesn’t know much at all about magic, but he’s always found it fascinating to watch rintaro and his family weave spells together, and
talking to other witches just tonight showed him that there are countless things you can do with magic that he hadn’t even considered.

“...hexes and contracts, mostly,” kiyoomi replies slowly.


“magical contracts. usually sacrificing something or meeting certain
conditions to gain a certain ability or power.”

“is that why you’re all...” atsumu waves his hand around kiyoomi, who only stares him down.


“... well, it’s not quite scary, but you do have a certain... aura. i never actually felt that before.”

kiyoomi seems vaguely
surprised at the observation, but then shakes his head.

“i’ve never used a contract on myself.”

“so you’re just naturally that strong?”

kiyoomi doesn’t quite smile, but something about his face seems less offended about atsumu’s mere existence.

“magic is a talent like any
other. some people can be born with more or less of it.”

“i guess that makes sense,” atsumu wonders out loud, before grinning up at kiyoomi again. “i have a talent for archery myself.”

“ you now?” kiyoomi doesn’t look convinced.

“you doubt me?” atsumu replies cockily.
“oh, i wouldn’t dare to question your highness,” kiyoomi says, his voice neutral as ever but his face betrays the hints of a mocking smirk. “tales of your skill must simply not have reached me yet—“

“i have to say, i admire your audacity, sakusa,” a new voice suddenly pipes up.
atsumu turns around to another witch walking up to them, one he hadn’t talked to yet—with a fur collar, narrow eyes, and a shit-eating smirk that might have come from a nobleman.

“truly, it’s incredible that you dared show yourself here after what your family did to all of us!”
atsumu can see kiyoomi’s jaw tighten next to him. he, in turn, smiles down at the stranger with artificial politeness.

“and who might you be?”

“ah, forgive me your highness,” the man bows down deeply. “daishou suguru, at your service. i simply couldn’t help but be concerned for
your safety when i saw who you were speaking with—“

“thank you for your concern, but i am perfectly aware of who i’m speaking with.”

atsumu can see all the other guests around them shamelessly look at their exchange—anger rises up in his throat.
"then, forgive my bluntness, but why, pray tell, is a sakusa still allowed within these halls?" daishou calls out and if people weren't listening before then they certainly were now.

"was it not the sakusa's who killed your ancestor, your highness? was it not their actions that
reflected so badly upon all witches in this realm, that forced us all to move into the forests and mountains, just because of one man's actions? your highness," daishou turns to him, and atsumu knows that he's just trying to get into his good graces, even though he think that his
anger is genuine.

"i am convinced that every single witch that's attending this ball is truly grateful for your allowing us here, but to let the cause of all this be here as well is just—"

"what is going on here!?" a loud booming voice resounds over the whispers of the crowd.
his royal majesty, atsumu and osamu's father, walks up to their group and atsumu feels his heart falter in his chest.

"is it true what the guards said? that a sakusa is here—"

"father, it's not—"


it's kiyoomi, who speaks up for the first time since daishou's arrival.
"my name is sakusa kiyoomi."

he glowers down at atsumu's father, who stares back at him in a moment of shock. and then—

"Guards! take this witch—"

"father, no!" atsumu exclaims.

"father," osamu comes up behind him. "i was watching them, he did nothing to tsumu—"
"those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it!" their father calls out. "i've indulged you two in inviting witches to the ball but i will not put my only sons even more at risk than they already are! guards, escort him—"

"i will escort myself."
with a snap of his fingers, kiyoomi disappears to loud gasps and a cloud of smoke.

"doing magic in our castle, how dare—"

"you've done enough!" atsumu snaps, and he feels osamu tense next to him—talking back to the king is never a good idea but atsumu does not care right now
“this is /our/ ball and he was /our/ guest, how dare you—“

“tsumu.” osamu’s hand comes down heavily on his shoulder, a sign for atsumu—he takes a deep breath, suppressing the urge to swear like a sailor in front of all these people.

“he’s right, father,” osamu continues for him
“All witches in our kingdom are invited to our ball. you and mother agreed to this.”

“please leave,” atsumu says, “since you’re already disturbing Our birthday ball.”

their father stares them in the eyes, the same kind of uncompromising challenge in his eyes that the twins were
known for. it’s a long moment, everyone who’s attending the ball being united by their apprehension of this conflict.

the king sighs. “very well.” he turns to the guests. “i apologize for the interruption. please, proceed with the festivities as usual.”

he walks away towards
his own rooms, but atsumu is too stubborn to allow him to have the last word.

“we humbly apologize for our father’s behaviour!” atsumu calls out as he leans down into a low bow, loud enough for his father to hear him.

osamu joins him. “his beliefs do not represent ours.”
“please know that we do truly welcome everyone here.”

they stay down in their bows for another second before rising up simultaneously. their gazes meet their father’s—who turns away with a displeased scoff. atsumu and osamu smile at each other triumphantly.
slowly but surely people start to turn away and talk amongst themselves again—no doubt gossipping about what just transpired, but atsumu pays them no mind because he has better thing to do, and also because he catches a green-brown blurr ducking out of the main entrannce form
the corner of his eye—and promptly chases after it.

"wait!" he exclaims outside, not caring about the guards eyeing them suspiciously. "you were with—with him, right? komori-kun?"

komori turns to him with wide spooked eyes, drawing his cloak and his bag closer to himself.
"i'm really, really sorry about what happened out there," he continues urgently, "i really didn't want that to happen."

komori's shoulders relax just a little.

"... i believe you. but i figure i should check up on kiyoomi because..." he throws a look back towards the hall.
"yeah about that—can you tell me where he lives?"

"oh that's—"

"just so i can apologize! or i could send a letter or something, but i'd like to say sorry personally, if i could."

he does really feel bad about what happened, and perhaps more selfishly, something about kiyoomi
fascinates him—he doesn't think they were meant to stop talking when they did.

komori bites his lip and shifts his eyes from side to side. then—

"ah, he's probably not going to like it but..." he smiles up at atsumu somewhat mischievously. "do you have flowerbeds nearby?"
atsumu promptly takes him around the corners of the estate, avoiding guests miling about where they can, until they arrive at a quieter area of the royal gardensm surrounded by daisy-like flowers—komori crouches down next to a bush of healthy purple aster fowers.
"i can do magic here, right?"

atsumu grins. "As The Crown Prince, yes, i give you explicit permission to practice magic," he drawls in exaggerated courtly affect and komori chuckles at him.

"alright then—don't mind if i do."

he plucks one of the smaller flowers from its stem,
and then proceeds to pluck out its petals as carefully as he can. he then takes out a small glass from his bag and places it right in front of him.

then, he starts chanting something in a language atsumu doesn't understand—he's heard rin chant it once or twice, but it's a
fascinating experience each and every time.

slowly, he starts waving one of his hands above the other where the petals lie in, and they start to rise in a spiral, glowing a faint blue in the late evening moonlight.

then, komori says something in a decisive voice, directing them
off to the side—and then promptly calling them back and into the glass jar that he quickly shuts with its cork. the petals glow and strain against the side of the glass but with a final word they lie down at the bottom as they normally would.

"shit—that's so cool!"
komori looks up at him with a raised eyebrow.

"oh that? that's easy stuff, just a simple finding spell," he replies as he presses the glass into atsumu's hands. "go to the eastern woods and open the jar, and the petals will lead you right to him—if it looks like you're about to
walk into a tree, just keep going."

"oh wow that's—thank you." atsumu shakes komori's hand. "truly. is it always that hard to find witches or...?"

"ah well... it depends, but kiyoomi is especially secretive."

".... because other witches don't like him either...?"

"oh no, he's
just like that," komori grins. "honestly he's probably going to be pissed that i did this," he says with genuine amused laughter—atsumu decides that he likes his teasing attitude then and there.

"truly, thank you again," he repeats with a revert look at the glass. "if there's
anything i could do for you—"

"oh, not at all you highness," komori interrupts him, "please, consider it a birthday present!"

"you can call me atsumu," he smiles at him. "and really, i... can't thank you enough. i want to make right by him. by all of you."
komori smiles up at him kindly. "i appreciate it. i think kiyoomi appreciates your effort too, even if he'd never admit it." he adds the last part with a laugh, and atsumu can just imagine kiyoomi's surly face as he barely manages to say thank you. it brings a smile to his face
komori leaves him with a last goodbye and atsumu returns to the ball with a grin while he dodges osamu's suspicious looks asking wordless where the fuck he went off to—atsumu later brags about getting a whole magical spell as a birthday present, where osamu didn't.
a few days later he takes his trusted mare and rides off to the eastern woods like komori told him to—without telling anyone, of course.

once there, he takes out the jar that he's been guarding with his life the past few days, and removes the cok from it
right away the petals begin to glow again and rise up into the air before flying off in a certain direction one after the other—he follows the line of petals in a quick trot through the woods, trying to steer his horse around the trees while not leaving the petals out of sight
after a few minutes of following the petals around they suddenly disappear right into an unassuming tree—he gets ready to fight his mare on walk straight into the trunk but she shoots off without his consideration at all.

he still flinches right as they're seemingly about to
crash right into a tree, but he feels nothing at all except maybe a slight shift in the wind—and when he opens his eyes he finds himself in the middle of a small clearing in the forest they were in previously, an unassuming cottage nestled right between several trees.
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